The period between 0 – 6 years of human life is one of the most critical ones in terms of pedagogy. Education in the early childhood plays a significant role in the development of the child. The child that has created the bond of confidence with her family starts to become autonomous, to socialize and gradually to join the society in this period for the first time. Thus, pre-school education does not only bring academic success, but it also contributes to the fact that individuals with healthy social relations are raised.
An Inter-disciplinary and Authentic Curriculum
The NUN Primary School and preschool curriculum has been constructed far from rote learning and superficial knowledge and it is based on an in-depth and inter-disciplinary model. One of the basic needs in education is continuous planning. At this point block scheduling for lessons is another necessity. At NUN preschool classes lessons are conducted in natural flow and continuously. For example, when the child is learning numbers with different materials, this knowledge is supported with an enjoyable song mentioning numbers; the physical education Teacher who comes to class right after the music teacher has the children do an exercise with the same rhythm of that song. Thus, the child is is raised in an education planning, where holistic knowledge is a natural part of life rather than knowledge in components. Discontinuous education such as “Mathematics lesson is finished, now it is turn for music. Music is done, now it is turn for physical education” will make it difficult for the child to change knowledge into action and make it part of his/her life. It will enforce the distinction between the school and family in the child’s mind and will prevent him/her from feeling belonging to where s/he is. This will lead to negative results for learning new content by the child’s withdrawing from learning. In order not to experience these, all lessons at NUN are instructed in a related way.
NUN preschool classes believe in the necessity and functionality of global contexts. When the child is raised to be a global citizen aware of his/her own values, this will change him/her into a person, who is more caring about those around him, who takes responsibility, who serves world peace starting to help from those in his/her close environment. Laying claim to his/her local and national values will take him/her to a platform, where s/he can make self-criticism and think more rationally and solution-focused; will protect him/her from overemphasizing or acclaiming him/herself or hating “the other.” Therefore, the NUN curriculum is taught not with the aims of blaming or hating the differences between cultures, but it is one that is both on the East and West and is taught with the aims of “understanding” and “improving.”
What NUN Schools consider the most important is outdoor learning. The child should be raised within the nature. What is mentioned as “within” here is beyond a school garden. The school has constructed their educational planning on the child’s discovery of the patterns in the nature. NUN Schools emphasizes the frequent nature discovery trips of the students for the following reasons: It has been observed many times that when the child goes on a trip with a camera and “ready for surprises” and with a dominant “curiosity” feeling, these result in an awareness for life, an inquiry and appreciation for the creator. Realizing the color transformation on the leaf of a plan tor the distinctive shapes of the clouds, paying attention to the sounds in the nature increases the child’s excitement and creativity in artistic production. Reflecting on the patterns in the nature, trying to understand how the plants live and grow, inferring that the fish and the birds need to breathe differently provide that the child opens up to scientific education. It is obvious that living in a friendly way with the animals and plants, the need for keeping the nature clean make the child gain an awareness for social responsibility and make him/her much more caring and respectful towards his/her environment. Taking into consideration that the nature is changed into an educational tool addressing the inborn curiosity in the children, that taking care of the soil leads one to tranquility, outdoor learning is definitely a significant need in preschool education.
Community Service Awareness
It is significant that a successful preschool education helps the child develop individual skills; however, in addition to developing these skills, an institution with a wide educational vision also aims to generate awareness for community service. This type of an institution does not fall into the error expecting help from the parents rather than the child by sending home a money box. They are aware that sending blankets to those in need is “a temporary solution”.
In order to generate awareness for community service in the child, NUN Schools consider it important that the children themselves carry out help. Therefore, believing that it is necessary to bring them together with those in need, they plan the progress. For example, when they want to share their favorite toys with their brothers and sisters in Aleppo, instead of just sending the toys, they provide opportunities for actually sharing the toys in real life. They believe that coming together with them, their hugging each other and smiling at each other will awaken much more permanent feelings than a joy of a toy out of a cargo package. NUN Schools emphasizes the point that this coming together is healthy for both sides as with this method, they believe that the feeling that will arise at the giving party will not be pride or a clear conscience, but it will be empathy, love and more sharing. In future ages these feelings will turn initially into concerns for generating more permanent solutions for needs and spreading the good to the whole world and then to seeking for relief with the responsibility “what should I do” and to reflection. Students who grow with this awareness will shape their actions on the conscience, responsibility and justice axis when they become adults.
Classroom Arrangement and Use of Technology
In education it is very important for the classroom to receive daylight and to be light and spacious for the student to feel confident and comfortable. One of the points that the parents make a mistake about is that the dominant colors in the classroom are too lively, complicated and multi-colored. To the contrary, it should be taken into consideration that the colors do not make the child feel tired but make them gain an aesthetic sensitivity and tranquility. NUN Schools believe in the elegance of simplicity and that the dominant pastel colors in the classroom will take the beauty in the child’s work to the foreground.
The furniture at NUN preschool classrooms is ergonomic and functional. The design changes in order to address the spontaneous educational needs of the children. For a whole class activity, the tables become a whole, for group work, clusters are made and they separate from each other for individual activities.
Use of technology is a sensitive topic for children of this age; overuse will be harmful, but not using it at all will deprive the child from the benefits of technology. At NUN preschool classes, technology is used as a tool to support global contexts and interdisciplinary approach. NUN Schools pay great attention to the fact that children notice everything outside themselves that are perceived as “the other”, that they get to know their environment and approach it respectfully without prejudice. For example, the following work is carried out: A video conference over Skype with the students of a school abroad. Here it widens the horizons of preschool children when they find out that when it is the first class here, it is about to get dark in the other country and students are in their last lesson, when they get to know children with different skin colors and speak different languages, when they get excited to see the “different” classroom environments. Here it is necessary to point out that communication is established by the children and not by the teacher.
All studies at NUN preschool classes have been constructed in order to make the student an individual. The children are raised as inquiring, reflective, productive, recognizing and discovering individuals, and these characteristics improve and develop day by day.